tv Democracy Now LINKTV May 14, 2015 8:00am-9:01am PDT
05/14/15 05/14/15 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! cook's maximum authorized speed through this curve was 50 miles per hour. when the engineer induced brake application was applied, the train was traveling at approximately 106 miles per hour. amico hours after the amtrak accident that killed seven people and injured some 200
others which 12 still missing, republican lawmakers reject an amendment to help install technology that could have prevented the crash. in addition, a house com budget by hundreds of millions of dollars. what will it take for the nation to begin prioritizing investing in mass transit? then we look at oil drilling from the the gulf of mexico to the arctic. >> shell as it knowledged they will have to be the oil in place until the next summer gelling season, which is nine months away, and kill arctic sea. this is unacceptable. amy: despite protests from environmentalists, the obama administration has tentatively approved shell's plans to begin oil drilling in the arctic as well as new drilling in the gulf of mexico near the site of the bp deepwater horizon disaster that killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons of oil pouring into the ocean.
we will go to seattle, the site of protest against the arctic drilling, and speak with antonia juhasz who recently dissipated in a dive in the gulf of mexico nearly a mile below the ocean surface to me getting closer to the side of the bp blowout than anyone has ever been. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. safety officials say an amtrak train that derailed in philadelphia tuesday night was traveling at twice the authorized speed. the engineer applied the emergency brakes when the train hit 106 miles per hour just moments before the train went off its tracks. the locomotive and seven passenger cars derailed, with sef the train so mangled people had to be rescued with , the aid of hydraulic tools. seven people are now dead more
than 200 are injured. after visiting the crash site, philadelphia mayor michael nutter said the toll could have been worse. >> deceit in the daytime is almost indestructible. -- to see it in the daytime is almost indescribable. it is incredible that so many people walked away from that scene last night. i saw people on the street behind us walking off of that train. and i don't know how that happened, but for the grace of god. amy: the engineer driving the amtrak train has been identified as 32-year-old brandon bostian from new york. according to his attorney, bostian has no recollection of the crash itself and no explanation for what happened. less than 24 hours after the crash, house republicans voted to cut about a fifth of amtrak's budget. he also rebuked attempts to provide funding for an advanced speed-control technology that federal investigators said would have prevented the accident. we'll have more on the amtrak tragedy after headlines. the senate has agreed to take up president obama's effort to finalize a global trade deal. under a compromise, the senate
will vote on three separate trade measures, including the fast-track authority obama seeks to negotiate the transpacific partnership, or tpp. the agreement was reached one day after senate democrats blocked debate on fast-track. the house has overwhelmingly approved a measure that would rein in a key nsa surveillance tactic exposed by edward snowden. the usa freedom act calls for ending the bulk collection of telephone records by requiring the nsa to make specific requests to phone companies for a user's data, rather than vacuuming up all the records at once. the vote comes just days after a federal appeals court found the bulk collection of phone records is illegal. the measure now goes to the senate, where top republicans are leading an effort to keep the bulk spying. congress faces a june 1 deadline to re-authorize the phone records collection program before it expires. the house has also approved a revised measure of an anti-choice measure withdrawn by
republicans earlier this year following a loud outcry. the bill would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. republican leaders dropped a requirement that rape and incest survivors seeking an exemption first report to police. but they instead imposed mandatory counseling or medical care for such women at least 48 hours before they have an abortion. minors would have to report rape or incest to law enforcement or child protective services. in a statement, the center for reproductive rights said the measure is "cruel and unconstitution in afghanistan, at least 14 people have been killed after gunmen attacked a guesthouse in the capital kabul. the attack at the park palace hotel took place during a party for foreigners, and the dead include people from multiple countries, including a u.s. citizen, several people from india, and afghan civilians. the taliban claimed responsibility, saying it had timed the attack to target "important people and americans."
the head of burundi's armed forces says an attempted coup against president pierre nkurunziza has been thwarted. an army general had earlier claimed to have ousted the president after more than two weeks of protests. scores of people have died and thousands have fled their homes since violence broke out over the presidents bid for a third term. on wednesday, large celebrations erupted in the capital after the announcement of a coup. but the jovial scene was followed by heavy clashes between rival forces. aides to the president have denounced the coup attempt as a joke and have vowed his return from a regional summit in tanzania. dozens of people have died in a fire at a rubber slipper factory near the philippine capital of manila. at least 72 people have been reported dead and the toll is expected to rise. president obama is hosting leaders and top officials from gulf allies today in a summit at camp david. the meeting was apparently
convened to address the countries' concerns over the nuclear deal with iran. on wednesday, president obama welcomed the saudi delegation at the white house. >> this gives us an opportunity to discuss some of the bilateral issues including the crisis in yemen and how we can build on the cease-fire that has been established to restore a process for an inclusive legitimate government inside of yemen. and it will also give us a chance to discuss some of the broader issues that will be the topic of the gcc u.s. summit tomorrow. amy: in an apparent snub tied to displeasure over the iran deal saudi arabia's king salman is skipping today's summit. the white house says it will announce new initiatives on integrating ballistic missile defense systems and increasing joint military exercises. the vatican will officially recognize the state of palestine
in a new treaty. the treaty concerns the vatican's interests in the occupied territories. earlier drafts referred to the palestine liberation organization rather than the state of palestine, but the vatican has referred to the state of palestine in other contexts since at least 2012 when the united nations voted to recognize palestine as a non-member observer state. meanwhile, a ship has to parted from sweden in a bid to break the israeli blockade of gaza. it is caring medical equipment and solar panels as part of the third gaza freedom flotilla. the port of seattle has voted to seek the blockade of rigs used by the oil giant shell for its planned drilling in the arctic this summer. shell has signed a lease to station its rigs in the puget sound while it drills for oil in pristine and highly remote waters in the chukchi sea, off the coast of alaska. on tuesday, the port of seattle's board called for a legal review of shell's plans
and a temporary postponement of its docking. the move came after a wave of activism challenging shell's effort. in a move denounced by environmentalists, the obama administration granted shell conditional approval this week to begin its offshore oil drilling in the arctic. we'll have more on that story later in the broadcast. josh fox, director of the documentary that expose the fracking industry, has been arrested along with 20 other people after forming a human blockade at the natural gas george facility in upstate new york. he asked was part of a long-standing campaign to expand -- a drinking water source for hundred thousand people. we will speak with him friday on democracy now! five of the world's top banks are reportedly set to plead guilty to a number of fraud and antitrust charges in the united states. according to "the new york times," barclays, jpmorgan chase, citigroup and the royal
bank of scotland will together pay billions of dollars in fines and plead guilty to rigging the price of foreign currencies as early as next week. ubs is also expected to plead guilty to charges and pay a $500 million fine. the justice department is voiding a previous non-prosecution agreement with ubs over its apparent violations of the terms. the guilty pleas aren't expected to impact the bank's operations. "the times" said the securities and exchange commission will likely approve waivers that would let the banks "conduct business as usual despite being felons." the military has dropped punitive measures against a guantánamo bay nurse who last year became the first known prison official to refuse to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners. the unidentified navy medical officer faced potential disciplinary charges that could have led to a discharge and loss of benefits. but the pentagon announced wednesday it won't take action. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!
democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermmen shaikh. nermeen: welcome to all our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. the death toll from tuesday's amtrak train derailment outside of philadelphia is now at seven and is expected to rise. about a dozen passengers are still missing. some 200 people were injured several critically. seven cars derailed, with sections of the train so mangled people had to be rescued with the aid of hydraulic tools. authorities now say the train was traveling at about 106 miles per hour, more than double the speed limit as it headed into a steep curve. national transportation safety board member robert sumwalt said yesterday the accident was preventable. >> i think we're looking probably at either a signal cause or human factor cause probably more likely the latter. that being the case, that is exactly the kind of issue that
positive train control is designed to address. and as such, if it turns out to be one or both of those causes, positive train control would absolutely have prevented this accident. nermeen: it prevents trains from going faster than the speed limit. it was not installed at the site of tuesday's crash. federal rules require the national rail network to have an operating positive train control system by the end of the year, but in march, the senate commerce committee voted to extend the deadline for implementing the new technology until at least 2020. just hours after the crash, the republican-controlled house appropriations committee rejected a democratic amendment to offer $825 million to speed up positive train control implementation. they voted to cut amtrak's budget by $250,000. amy: rail advocates have long called for the united states to greatly increase its spending on the nation's rail infrastructure. one recent study estimated $21
billion is needed to repair and replace existing rail assets in the northeast corridor. well, to talk more about the accident, we're joined now by two guests. in washington, d.c., edward wytkind is the president of the transportation trades department of the afl-cio, which represents 2 million transportation workers including the vast majority of , amtrak workers. and in denver, we're joined by david sirota, senior writer at "the international business times." his recent piece is headlined, "lawmakers moved to delay rail safety rule weeks before philadelphia derailment." we welcome you both to democracy now! david, let's start with you on the issue of safety. everything is being made of the fact that train as it was making that turn coming out of the philadelphia train station around three miles outside of philadelphia headed to new york, that it was going at 106 miles per hour and it looks like seconds before, it was reduced to something like 102 miles per
hour. the media, very much laying the blame on the engineer. can you talk about what could have prevented this from happening? >> well, there is a technology called positive train control, which is a pretty, by our standards, low-tech technology. i mean logistically, the logistical challenge to implement it, but it is not rocket science. in 2008, congress passed a bill mandating that positive train control be up limited on the nation's rails by the end of this year, 2015. that seems like a long time, but what happened a few weeks ago was under pressure from the private rail industry, the congress began moving forward a bill to delay the deadline for the implementation of positive train control. so a couple of weeks ago, before this crash senators in a
bipartisan fashion on the senate science and commerce committee pushed through a bill to delay the rule. the ntsb has said if positive train control had been implemented on the stretch of railway, which it wasn't, that this crash would have been prevented. and we looked at some of the campaign contributions, the chief sponsor of the bill senator roy blunt missouri has taken $290,000 from the railroad industry. it is not to say if the bill had passed or didn't pass it would have solved everything but it shows that congress has not been really pushing the rail industry to get this implement it. i should add in 2011, the obama administration in a court proceeding limited the scope of the amount of tracks the positive train control should apply to under that rule. nermeen: edward wytkind, could you give us a sense to the
general state of the transportation infrastructure here in the united states is like? the american society of civil engineers gives the nation a d+ on the state of the infrastructure in its latest report. could you comment on that? >> as far back as you can look -- this has become the lost generation, a generation that has stopped investing. it is not because the people around america don't want to invest, it is because the people we elect are basically not getting the job done. and so we're bridges falling down, railroads and transit systems that don't have the money to implement technology as we hear with the positive train control. we have ports that are no longer competitive with the rest of the world. we have an aviation system that is using 50 plus year old technology. and all of that adds up to a tremendous challenge to keep our system not only efficient and
technology-savvy but to keep it safe. when you have life-saving technologies like positive train control, those things need to be implemented and we should not be extending as far as the eye can see the timetable by which the industry has to implement it. and so it is a said state. i'm not proud of it. we work very hard in washington to make a different case, but we don't have enough people elected in the congress who understand the urgency of the problem or are willing to do anything about it. amy: edward wytkind, you represent the engineer, the head of the union that represents many rail workers all over the country. can you talk about as head of the transportation straight department of the afl-cio what you feel needs to be done? and his response saying he doesn't remember what happened? of course, we don't really know
what happened. he was taken to the hospital and then he was released right away. his lawyers said he doesn't remember what happened. >> well, look. unfortunately, and you alluded to this in your opening, there's been a bit of a media frenzy focused exquisitely on the engineer. frankly, a lot of the comments that up and made i agree with the ntsb have been inflammatory and over-the-top. as far as i'm concerned -- i'm not going to comment on anything specific regarding the engineer and what happened at the moment but everyone is attending to rush to judgment and that is the problem with the transportation industry. we focus so much on the human factors that we don't look around us and see what else could happen. whether it is rail or any other part of the transportation industry, to make things safer. they're all sorts of things we're not addressing. for example, we have chronic fatigue in the rail industry. in the rail industry won't talk to about that on camera because they would not want to admit
their workers are all chronically fatigued and unwilling to agree to federal measures that would make the workforce better able to do its job and not be so tired every time they come to work. we have a railroad industry, for example, the freight railroads that are attempting, in some cases, to go to one person crews. their opinion read to -- regulations and legislation that would finally put a mandate that there be no fewer than two crew members on every train in america. why is that? because you need backup on trains to make sure their operated safely and those are the kind of redundancies, two crew members give one another, and operations making it much safer. we just had a case in canada where an entire town was leveled by a train, and that train was been operated by one crew member. there are a lot of issues here. unfortunately, we all gravitate to, let's blame the worker and not look at other factors that contribute to accidents. on this philadelphia case, i'm not commenting on the case because that should be the
posture everyone takes. we should not be tried to rush to judgment about what exactly happened. unfortunate, too many electeds are doing that and i think it is hurting the ntsb to do the right kind of investigation. nermeen: earlier, we heard robert halsted talk about the positive train control system. i want to turn now to ntsb member robert sumwalt who said yesterday the accident was preventable. >> we have called for positive train control for many, many years. it is on our most wanted list. congress has mandated it be installed. by the end of this year. so we are very keen on positive train control. based on what we know right now, we feel had such a system been installed in the section of track, this accident would not have occurred. nermeen: edward wytkind, can you comment on what robert sumwalt said and what the prospects are for the implementation of this technology? >> first of all, i need -- i
differ to the experts in the ntsb is an expert on that. there's no doubt the accident would have been prevented by positive train control. david mentioned this earlier there is an aggressive lobby effort around the country and led by the freight railroads to try to get relief from having jim demint this technology. yes, you are correct when you opened the show when appropriate or's refused money to help some of the rail systems implement this technology. but as the ntsb has had an safety experts all around the country have done tv interviews have said, there are no doubt accident such as this horrific accident in philadelphia would be prevented by positive train control. it is designed to stop trains from colliding with one another. it is designed to help the system adjust when a train is not functioning and the wait is supposed to. in this case going too fast.
positive train control would have fixed that problem. it is avoidable. we just have to have the political will to do it in washington, and we have to resist heavy-handed lobbying in washington. amy: on wednesday, the white house press secretary josh earnest speaking wednesday about whether the derailment of the amtrak train in philadelphia will give new momentum to the obama administration's push for more funding from congress. >> as a general matter, the administration strongly believes these kinds of investments in infrastructure make good sense. there is no reason infrastructure has to be part of the issue. amy: david sirota, let's talk about this, a couple of issues. one, people don't know what positive train control is. the issue of the train communicating with the tracks and it was going too fast, the brakes would have automatically be put on. but the obama administration calling for fall more money -- far more money going into public infrastructure. we're talking about issues of an old system comes the issue of climate change in the wearing
down of the current system. can you start off by talking about how the u.s. compares to the rest of the world when it comes to transportation systems? the northeast corridor, doesn't did find the rest were a lot of the rest of amtrak because in fact, it is actually profitable? and if the money is pulled out of it, as the republicans are pushing to do and house appropriations committee yesterday, if it is privatized, it would be extremely valuable for some private corporations. >> the stats are pretty stark. the economist, not exactly liberal, pound the united states ends about 2.5% of its gdp on infrastructure. europe on average spends about 5% of its gross domestic product on infrastructure. china is spending about 9% of its gdp on infrastructure.
obviously, in terms of the age of its economy, we should be comparing, the best comparison is probably as an europe. the fact we are spending roughly half of our percentage of gdp that europe is spending on its infrastructure tells you a lot. the world economic forum ranked as as number 23 in the world in terms of money and maintenance of our infrastructure and how much investment we put into infrastructure. yes, the answer is we are definitely trailing much of the rest of the industrialized world. and part of that is a safety issue and part of it is an economic issue in terms of not just maintaining infrastructure, but building new infrastructure to move into a 21st-century economy. we are relying on old infrastructure that we're not really willing to make the investments that experts say is necessary. experts say we need to be putting in at minimum another $20 billion in year in
investments on our infrastructure, and we haven't done that. and this is not a partisan issue , as i have heard said, which is exactly right. if you look at polling on this republicans, independents, democrats in the country at large say they support more investment in infrastructure. it is a political problem in washington where this kind of spending, because it is not sexy or glamorous is getting crowded out. amy: the comets of the republican congress members yesterday hours after this strange realm it that hurt hundreds of people killed we don't how many at this point but at least 7, saying, you don't know what caused this. so we're not when you let it get in the way of cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from last years amtrak budget. edward wytkind, the issue of climate change. mass transportation being a very important answer to that. i think i saw a figure yesterday out at northeastern university,
the u.s. and's $1.4 billion on trains them in china's been something like $124 billion on trains. we have made a lot of the 106 mile-per-hour trains that the train was going at 106 miles per hour, and that is very serious for northeast corridor train making a turn, but we were just broadcasting from japan, the bullet train goes hundreds of miles an hour. what about all of this and this issue of -- you represent millions of workers -- how you see it turning from a political issue to a popular issue since clearly, most people do support this kind of investment? >> well, thank you. the problem is, elections have consequences. so when you continue to elect people that don't understand the importance of these kinds of issues, you get the results that you get. david mentioned some polling. just on amtrak, the vast majority of americans in all parties support more money for amtrak.
for those that don't know, the tunnels through which we travel in the northeast corridor, four of them, they are 100 years old. while we are traveling through 100-year-old tunnels, barely being able to crack 60, 70 miles per hour on much of the network you have china and japan preparing to put trains online that go over 300 miles per hour. it is not because this is some sexy race. this is about the economy, mobility about who is going to win the economic race in this century. and you are not pointed it using the 1950's infrastructure. it is a serious problem. you public transit systems that are seen record ridership that are being forced to cut service and jobs. as i said earlier, our nation's ports him about one third of them can no longer receive the largest vessels coming online because we're not investing in the modernization of those harbors and ports. it could not be a more serious problem and it is about washington. if you ask the american people what they want, they want more
infrastructure investment yet the people they send washington are not getting the job done so we end up with these ridiculous markups in appropriations committees where on the day of the philadelphia rec, you're seeing 200 plus million dollars cut from amtrak, which is completely reckless and irresponsible. amy: david sirota, what happens from here? that meeting, 12 hours after people were killed and hundreds injured, but that is the house appropriations committee. that doesn't mean it has passed all of the house were all of the senate. as we wrap up, who are the forces that are pushing to, for example, delay the positive train control, the ones that are automatic speed controls on the trains -- when we talk about the private rail industry? >> you have the private rail industry pushing and the association of american railroads -- by the way, includes amtrak lobbied against her lobbied for
that extension. so you have that set of lobbies. i also think this brings a larger ideological forces. you have republicans who don't want to raise public revenue through raising taxes. ultimately, this comes down to an ideological fight, which is are we going to raise the public revenue that experts say is necessary to maintain and build out our infrastructure and are we going to have a discussion about taxes? right now the republican party has said they're not quite have about taxes, so i think there is going to be a lot of media, a lot of attention about this derailment questions about why we cutting amtrak funding right after the derailment. but i think ultimately, until there is a discussion about the underlying debate, which is really about, are we going to raise public revenue, then not much is going to change. nermeen: david, you mentioned the level of investment in europe and asia in trains relative to the u.s.
how does this affect rail safety and terms of the numbers of accidents in asia, europe compared to here in the u.s.? >> that is a good question. overall, real travel remains a very, very safe form of transportation. it is getting safer. comparing previous years to now, even in the united states your point is a good one, which is when you look and compare injury rates on american railways versus european railways, we have a much higher rate of injury per mile traveled than people in europe and countries in europe. and that is not according -- again, a liberal source, that is the american enterprise institute, which is a conservative think tank. so part of that unwillingness to spend money on maintenance is a safety issue. of course, conservatives would say that it would be a safer
system if it was privately run. but the opponents of that say that's crazy, this is really a failure of oversight, a failure of regulation, a failure of rule and investment. the fact is, even that debate hasn't really been happening in the nation's capital where we're not willing to really invest even the basic resources to maintain the current system that we already have. amy: we want to thank you both for being with us, david sirota, senior writer at "the international business times." we will link to your piece "lawmakers moved to delay rail , safety rule weeks before philadelphia derailment." and thank you to edward wytkind the president of the transportation trades department of the afl-cio. tdd represents the vast majority of amtrak employees. when we come back, we are going
amy: welcome to our students visiting. that song "saltwater," by julian , lennon. this is democracy now! democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with nermeen shaikh. nermeen: the obama administration has tentatively approved shell's plans to begin oil extraction off the alaskan coast this summer. federal scientists estimate the arctic region contains up to 15 billion barrels of oil and shell has long fought to drill in the icy waters of the chukchi sea. amy: environmentalists warn arctic drilling will pose a risk to local wildlife and exacerbate climate change.
they fear that a drilling accident in the icy arctic ocean waters could prove far more devastating than the deadly 2010 gulf of mexico spill since any rescue operations could be delayed for months by harsh weather conditions. speaking to ktuu-tv, lois epstein of the wilderness society denounced the government's decision to green-light oil exploration and . >> the records from 2012 drilling in the arctic ocean was disaster by anyone's measure of one of their true -- jewelries grounded fires, criminal penalties for air pollution violation. amy: for more we go to washington state where we're joined by subhankar banerjee. he is a renowned photographer, writer and activist who has spent the past 15 years working for the conservation of the arctic, and raising awareness about indigenous human rights and climate change. he is editor of the anthology, "arctic voices: resistance at the tipping point."
his recent piece for tomdispatch is called, "to drill or not to drill, that is the question." in 2012, he won a cultural freedom award from the lannan foundation. can you talk about the obama administration decision and what this means for the arctic? >> the decision is both responsible and reckless. let me clarify something at the beginning. what the administration has approved now is the exploration plans for shell to drill this summer, starting from july to october. but this is not -- this is the most significant permit that shall needs, but not all of the permits. she'll still needs more permits -- shell still needs more permits. that is why the activists are working very hard to make sure some of these permits are not granted.
the primary reasons, a spill in the arctic ocean would be far more devastating than what happened in the gulf of mexico. in the administration has finally acknowledged after losing in two federal courts, one in 2010 and one later on, there is a 75% chance of one or more major spills is exploration leads to production. a spill is inevitable. if a spill does happen, as you mentioned, if it happens late in the season like october, the net oil will have to be left in place for like nine months because the cia's gets covered -- the seaice gets covered. until it not the following year and cleanup can begin. even if this bill happens in the summertime, it is real problem because the arctic sea always has constant dangers of large ice flows and shell already
encounter that in the 2012 killing season as well as directly -- strictly reducing visibility. the storms have become more violent and intense. you combine that with the fact there is absolutely [indiscernible] the nearest coast guard station is 1000 miles away. and no infrastructure in place. there is absolutely no infrastructure in place to respond to a large spill. the second site we need to understand, arctic is what is [indiscernible] both atmospheric and oceanic. for a couple of examples, what happens in the arctic affects not just arctic, but the whole planet. the severe winter weather in the northeast and the ongoing drought in california both have
now been linked by recent scientific studies to slowing down of the arctic jet stream because the arctic is warning in a much faster rate than the lower latitudes. in the second one is the gulf stream or you have the warm water from the gulf of mexico in the southern latitudes, it goes down into the deep ocean, cold and comes back. it is called a gulfstream that maintains our oceanic and that was fair process. -- atmospheric process. [indiscernible] you mention the ecology of the region. what is in the arctic seas? they will not allow drilling because it is chilly a national and international ecological
treasure. nermeen: according to the ad by shell, they have developed unprecedented arctic oil spill response contingency plans. >> the explosion program is defined by its remoteness and shell has gone to great lengths to make sure a worse case scenario such as an oil spill never takes place. that in the unlikely event that one did, shell's on-site oil spill response assets would be deployed and recovering oil within one hour. the recovery effort would be aided by nearshore response agreement and onshore oil response equipment. this kind of 24/7 response given ability is unprecedented. nermeen:, could you comment on what the ad says and also tell us a little bit about shells record in the arctic region? >> what you just mentioned is nothing new. the sugarcoating that shell has been peddling for the last two years. in 2010, shell and minds of dollars on an ad campaign --
millions of dollars on an ad campaign. shell has been saying this for the last at least five years. nothing has changed. it is not changed [indiscernible] this whole idea that we have the technology is nothing but a pr campaign. it's a spill does happen in the ice waters, the cleanup would be very ineffective. shells record in the arctic. shell would of their with a conditional permit from the obama administration in 2012. conditional because they were not allowed to drill all the way
to the oil bearing zone, only top hole drilling prepare for the following season. what ended up happening is the first day they started drilling, then countered in ice flow the size of manhattan, 30 miles by 10 miles long. they had to immediately halt operation and disconnect from the sea floor anchor. while there were going up to the arctic, or drill ship discover aground off of a harbor in southwest alaska. then while coming back, it caught fire and the engine suffered damage. while the other drill ship was rounded in the gulf of alaska. the reason [indiscernible] show try to avoid alaska taxes. it all goes back to the fact
that right now the price of oil is low and it is truly incredibly responsible when the price of oil is low and the technologies and every structure don't exist to send shell out there because shell will try to cut costs, as they did in 2012. in the company -- and the company was fined a total of 12 million dollars to mobile and $12 million to shell for violating environment laws including the clean air act as well as the clean water act. amy: on tuesday, the port of seattle voted. shell signed a lease to station is rigs in the puget sound while it drills for oil in pristine and highly remote waters off the coast of alaska. the port of seattle's board called for a legal review of shell's plans and a temperate postponement of its docking. the move came after a wave of activism in seattle challenging
shell's effort. nermeen: on tuesday, activists set up a tripod to try to block work. meanwhile, thousands of kayakers will try to block the arrival of the rig on saturday, the start of a three-day festival of resistance. organizers are calling the flotilla the "paddle in seattle." for more, we're joined by antonia juhasz. she is also a volunteer with rising tide seattle. welcome to democracy now! could you talk about the action you have planned? >> we're going to have three days that we are calling the festival of resistance. the first day is saturday, may 16. the flotilla. we will have many, many kayaks, canoes barges on the water and we will be sharing a massive show of numbers of people power on the water, showing that we can and we will stop shell from going up to the arctic.
the second day, sunday, is going to be a family day. potluck in the park. and monday, may 18, the day of mass direct action when we take land-base actions in order to show shell that we can shut them down on the water and on the land. they cannot hide. nermeen: there was also an earlier greenpeace action against the raid. could you tell us about that? >> i believe it was six greenpeace activists and they boarded the rig as across the pacific ocean while it was ackley moving. -- while he was actually moving. it was a great feat of bravery and skill. they did it to highlight what shell is doing and this diabolical plan that shell has to actually go and real into the
arctic from which we could never survive because we know the arctic is our air-conditioning system. what the greenpeace activists were doing, they were shining a spotlight on what shell is doing so the rest of the world can actually understand what is happening right here, right now, and they were heading right for the apple at the time so they galvanized so much of the movement right here in seattle. amy: the port of seattle decision voting to see the blockade of rigs used by the oil giant shell for its planned drilling arctic in the arctic this summer, your response to that? >> so the port of seattle once to pretend that it is listening to the people, but actually, the port of seattle is can -- is corrupt and they are bought and paid for by so -- shell and they're not listening to the people. they have had thousands of
calls, thousands of e-mails. we have showed up enmass to meeting after meeting and they are ignoring the will of the people and they are supposed to be our democratic leaders. the refusing to listen to us and that is what we are taking action a 16-may 18 in order to protest this corrupt system that is utterly failing the people. amy: zarna joshi part of the (s)hell no action coalition and this weekend's festival of resistance, and a volunteer with rising tide seattle. and subhankar banerjee, spent 15 years working for the conservation of the arctic. that does it for this segment but we're going to go from seattle down to the gulf of mexico. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
arctic to the gulf of mexico where drilling has resumed near the site of the bp-operated offshore oil rig that exploded five years ago in the worst industrial environmental disaster in u.s. history. on wednesday, harper's magazine revealed a louisiana-based oil company purchased the area from bp and is now drilling into the macondo reservoir. the report also looks at the ongoing impact of the 2010 spill. bp insists most of the oil has now dissolved or evaporated, and did not settle on the ocean floor. amy: but that's not what our next guest found. antonia juhasz spent two weeks on a ship in the gulf of mexico as part of a scientific research mission exploring the impacts of the bp gulf oil spill. she participated in a dive in the alvin submarine, nearly a mile below the ocean surface getting closer to the site of the blowout than anyone had ever been. well, antonia juhasz joins us now to describe what she saw. her report is in the new issue
of harpers magazine is titled, "thirty million gallons under the sea: following the trail of bp's oil in the gulf of mexico." she's also author of, "black tide: the devastating impact of the gulf oil spill." welcome back to democracy now! what did you see? how did you do this? >> a pleasure to be here. it was an amazing adventure, to say the least. the alvin submarine celebrated its 50th anniversary last year incredibly important -- the first in the last human occupied summering still available for research on a so it is an incredible experience to be able to go down in it. and dr. samantha joy, one of the leading experts on oil and gas in the gulf of mexico who has led the research, looking at the impact of the bp disaster, was my guide with our pilot bob waters, who is both an engineer and a pilot so that is good. within two miles of the site of the blowout, which is as close
as you can get. the wreckage of the deepwater horizon is still there. it took two hours to get down. we then made a curve around the side of the disaster, taking sediment samples along the way. when we got down there, really the most stark thing to report was that there is basically nothing there. it is a moonscape host of basically, all of the sea life that could get out of the way of the oil got out of the way of the oil. every thing else, and dr. joyce words, was nuked and killed. and there is a blanket of oil as much as two inches thick covering 3000 square feet of the ocean floor. nermeen: bp insists most of the crude oil that leaked in the deepwater horizon oil rig explosion dissolved or evaporated before it reached land, and did not settle on the ocean floor. in february, politico published an article titled "no, bp didn't , ruin the gulf" that was
written by bp senior vice president of communications geoff morrell. he wrote -- "natural oil seeps release up to the equivalent of nearly six exxon valdez spills in the gulf each year, and microbes in the gulf have adapted over time to feast on oil." morrell also noted the spill occurred in deep water and -- "more than 40 miles from shore in a temperate climate. that allowed a lot of oil to dissolve, evaporate, deteriorate or be physically removed before it reached land." could you responded that? >> by article response to it really well, salinity the short version because there's so much to unpack. the first thing is, there's naturally occurring seeps that exist in the gulf of mexico. this is a teeny tiny bit of oil across the ninth largest body of water in the world and it seeps out over millennia. in natural environments to exist around them. they are quite beautiful. at that is such a small amount
in comparison to the huge momentous, enormous shock of 170 million gallons of oil being released at once at the bottom of the ocean floor. there is absolutely no comparison. but he is right that there is such a thing as naturally occurring microbes that eat oil. there are number of problems. first, the microbes did eat some of the oil but they only ate what they could, which means according to dr. joy, they left about 30 million barrels still behind, which is the equivalent -- axes me, three exxon valdeze s. what the that behind is what they did not want to eat, which is also the most toxic part of the oil. and that most toxic part of the oil is what remains on the bottom of the ocean floor. in addition, the dispersant that bp expelled into the gulf of mexico, dr. joy found, is actually a deterrent which kept away the microbes that would
have eaten more oil. so the oil is toxic, the correct sick is is toxic. both of which are still at the bottom of the ocean floor. but it also inhibited the presence of more those naturally occurring microbes. and what dr. joy signs found the microbes are long done eating. what is left is going to be the forever because the bottom of the ocean is cold and dark refrigerator, and naturally preserving environment, so that most toxic heart of the oil is now -- part of the oil is now permit a feature of the gulf of mexico. amy: talk about the story you are breaking an harpers about where bp is planning to drill. >> this isn't bp -- i guess that is one good piece of news. while we were down there, in the
midst of nothing, we saw these two horizontal tracks running along the ground. clearly, man-made. we followed them for a while to figure out what they are. we figured they must be seismic cables that are used to determine how much oil is in the ground. once i got back to shore, i spent much of the last year investigating what these cables meant will stop what i uncovered was that the department of interior and very quietly without anyone knowing no press attention or public attention, broken up bps lead so bp now only owns the wreckage, the area of the wreckage. and all the rest was sold to another company llog louisiana-based company, active in the gulf of mexico, and it was given the rights to try for oil and there and cement a place in october. those plans are -- i have to say, nearly brought me to tears and how similar they were to bps original plan -- within a month they got approval to start drilling.
they are now drilling at an adjacent site, cutting over under the ground already underway at the adjacent site. this is just part of the business as usual in the gulf of mexico. basically, everything is not only back to normal, but you have a company drilling in this most treacherous and still unbelievably harmed part of the earth and you have even companies, including bp, but particular chevron and shell moving way far out into the gulf of mexico, drilling twice as deep as the deepwater horizon was drilling and 150 miles further out into the ocean. nermeen: are the regulations in place down that make the drilling safer? >> the obama administration has made changes and they are welcome changes. but their pews mail. their tiny changes in response to a huge problem. thank you for putting a place
regulations, that's great, but the regulations -- the companies make a mistake, the regulations are chopped little piece off of what was identified as a problem, little piece here and a little piece there. and nothing addresses the systemic problems of just the incredible inherent risk in difficulty and technological you know, profoundest how difficult it is to do this type of drilling. at that is just getting at the drilling. what hasn't been addressed basically, neither bp nor any other company operating in the gulf really knows what to do in a blowout happens. they don't really have the tools to deal with it. and the most recent legal findings, the judge looking at the disaster said, yes, bp is responsible for causing the disaster, but basically because federal regulators don't make them know what to do after a blowout and none of the other companies know what to do, basically, nobody is to blame. if nobody is to blame, then nothing is likely to change. so we're still in the same place
we were before the blowout. amy: what do you think needs to happen? >> the united nations has told us very matter-of-factly, as has every other climate scientist in the world just about, that 80% of fossil fuels need to stay in the ground before -- if we are to avert the worst climate crisis. to me, there are certain areas that just have to be checked off the list as just no go zones that it is too risky, we don't need it that badly, and the risks are too profound. to me, offshore drilling belongs on that list. instead, the obama administration, in addition to okaying are almost okaying the shell project, has opened up for the first time drilling off the atlantic coast from up to virginia where for the first time, oil and gas development would take place off the atlantic coast starting in 2017. amy: final comments as you come from this very unusual dive that you did, in the last 30 seconds
and you come up now for air. >> i did not appreciate the significance of the cycle of life that exists from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the ocean to us. so their little creatures like tube worms are supposed to live on the bottom of the ocean, but most of them don't anymore as the result of the oil spill that break down food particles. and those two particles are critical for phytoplankton that provides 50% of the oxygen on the earth. so if they don't have food and they can't live, then we can't live, either. as dr. joy said, if you kill the earth -- if you kill the ocean basically, none of us can live and that was an important message to take forward for me. amy: antonia juhasz, we will link to your report and harpers magazine called "thirty million , gallons under the sea: following the trail of bp's oil in the gulf of mexico." she's also author of, "black tide: the devastating impact of the gulf oil spill." that does it for our show.
democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed captioning. e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to democracy now! p.o. box 693 new york, new york 10013. [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. asking you to go to the phone to some portland tv. your support today means a tremendous amount to keep independent media alive in this country. in this hour, we will be bringing you excerpts of a remarkable film called a fierce green fire. the film is the first big picture exploration of the environmental movement through struggles that spent decades. it is directed by the oscar-nominated the western is the